Formal equivalence vs Dynamic equivalence

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Bible Student, Dec 5, 2002.

  1. Bible Student

    Bible Student
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    As we look at Bible Versions I think this might be a good topic to discuss.

    I have my opinion/belief but which do you think is the best way to translate the Word of God?

    Richard [​IMG]
     
  2. Pastor Larry

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    I am increasingly of the opinion that this "dichotomy" is not nearly so great as many have made it. The fact is that both are necessary in any translation, whether of Scripture or of modern day conversation. Strict formal equivalence is impossible. Dynamic equivalence is confused by many to be a form of paraphrase when it is not. Both are necessary for accurate translating.
     
  3. Pastork

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    I agree with Pastor Larry that a more nuanced understanding of this issue is necessary on the part of many, that the lines are not so easily drawn as many would suppose. However, on the continuum of more versus less dynamic equivalence, I would definitely put my self on the side of formal equivalence as that for which we should strive in any good translation. I hold to the old motto "Literal as possible; free as necessary." In my view, we should seek to avoid the translators' interpretive influence as much as possible. Just because iterpretation cannot be altogether avoided does not mean we should see it as the primary object of translation either. In my opinion, dynamic equivalence translations have become more and more open to what used to be called "paraphrase," and I find this troubling because I think it confuses translation with application, etc.

    To give you some idea of what I mean, I would say that the NIV goes too far for me in many instances that I would regard as paraphrase, although on the whole I would regard it as a quality translation. However, it is in my opinion quite restrained when compared to some of the more recent translations, such as the NLT. I hope we do not see any further degeneration in this direction. To echo an old KJV dynamic equivalence translation, "God forbid!"

    Pastork

    [ December 05, 2002, 03:45 PM: Message edited by: Pastork ]
     
  4. romanbear

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    Hi Everyone;
    What I would like to have is a Bible that has been translated by using the majority of text.By taking each and every manuscript available and taking each word individually and as each word is written in the in the majority of each manuscript.
    Example;
    Gen 1:1 In the beginning- If the majority of each manuscript has the first word as (IN) then this is how I would wish it to be, by allowing the majority to win out over the minority.
    Then the translation of each word to be the original translation of original Greek, Hebrew,and Aramaic.Not using the new definitions of the words but, defining them as they would have been when written.
    Then following the same rules that the scribes used in Christ's time.By using a grid method to insure unity in what all the scriptures say. and having the proof checked for mistakes and then checked over and over again as many a 10 times and if a mistake is found say in a book of the Bible then have it thrown out and redone all over again until it's as perfect as it could be considering that man is the one doing it.To my mind man has interpreted the word until it no longer has it's original message in newer versions by changing it to suit them selves.
    The closest that we have for a word for word version of the original is the KJV.I've heard that most Rabbi's say that the KJV has the most accurate version of the old testament.
    As long as the Catholic Church owns the oldest manuscripts of the new testament we will never have this because we have to rely on the word of other men.The Catholic Church is not going to allow any of us to do what I have just described, because they don't want to do anything that might destroy there Church.I realize that this how it's claimed that the Texus Receptus was translated and this was used in the translation of the KJV.
    Romanbear
    Peace
     
  5. Pete Richert

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    Good, so we can get rid of 1John 5:7.
     
  6. Pastor Larry

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    The first word of Genesis 1:1 is not "in." It is "bereshith." It is generally translated as "in the beginning" and with good reason ... for that is what it means. However, many cases are not that simple. And a word for word translation does not always make sense. Consider Gen 37:2 where "formal equivalence" would translate Joseph as being the "son of seventeen years." Every version practices dynamic equivalence, recognizing the translational principle that meaning is most important in translation.
    This "grid method" is a figment of someone over active imagination as best as I can tell. I have never seen one piece of documented evidence though I have heard many people repeat it. The historical evidence shows us that the "grid method" was not practiced.

    Actually, the KJV dynamic in many places. The closest to a word for word translation is probably the 1904 ASV or the 1963 NASB. But both are very difficult to read, for obvious reasons. The KJV employs dynamic equivalence in numerous places, such as Rom 6:2, Matt 26:44. There are too many to mention here.

    The NIV is probably the most accurate. However, I have never heard or read any rabbi say that the KJV was the most accurate. It decidely is not, in terms of communication of the meaning of the text communicated by the words used.

    This is a frequently, and unfortunately, oft repeated mistruth. The Catholic church does not "own" a manuscript per se. The scripts in question date back unchanged to the 2-5th centuries, thereby predating the catholic church as we know it. They remain unchanged for 1500 years. These manuscripts are not hidden by the RCC. They have been available for many years.
     
  7. Bible Student

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    Thank you all for your input who have responded so far. It is my hope that we can have a good discussion about this with our any name calling as I do not feel it benefits any one position.

    My concern about the dynamic equivalence as I understand it is the one translating adds their own understanding of what it means. I would be concerned that their own belief system might not truly be what the text really says.

    Richard [​IMG]

    [ December 05, 2002, 02:39 PM: Message edited by: Bible Student ]
     
  8. Joseph_Botwinick

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    If we defined it woodenly word for word without changing it to a smooth translation, then Genesis 1:1 would read like this:

    "In beginning he created God sign of object the heavens and sign of object the Earth."

    If written exactly word for word as it would be defined, it wouldn't make any sense to English speaking people in the 21st century.

    As for what the majority texts have for a certain word, I don't know much of anything about Greek in the NT, but in Hebrew, there are many words that could possibly have many different definitions based on your interpretation of the context of the passage. Two examples of this follow:

    Genesis 1:1- Beroshith: Literally translated "In Beginning". Most Christians interpret this as "In the beginning" even with the absence of a definite article "hay". It could have possibly been interpeted as "In a beginning" which would have changed the interpretation of the whole passage. I have seen a Jewish interpretation in which they translate it as "In the Beginning, when God created..." I remember reading a commentary as to why they use this translation, but can't remember their reasoning for it.

    Genesis 1:2- "Weha'arezt hayathah" can be literally translated two different ways: 1st: "And the Earth it was " (This is a wooden translation). 2nd: "And the Earth it became ". One way suggest a gap theory and another suggest one creation that was not completed as of yet. Therefore, interpretation is necessary based on the context of the passage. So you can see, that at least in the Old Testament, you are still gonna have to deal with a lot of interpretation because of the extent of the ancient Hebrew vocabulary. There were simply a lot less words back then than there are now, but they tended to paint a bigger picture with less words. I hope this helps to understand the translation issue a little better.

    Joseph Botwinick [​IMG]
     
  9. Pastor Larry

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    Formal equivalence is not exempt from this. Hebrew and Greek words, like English words, have more than one meaning in most cases. The range of meaning is called the semantic domain. A word may have 2, 3, 4, 10, or more meanings, all dependent on the context and the translator's understanding of that context. Even a formally equivalent translation requires the translator to interpret the word. Most translations whether formal or dynamic are generally in agreement. Most of the difference in DE and FE comes from the translation of grammatical forms and idioms. For instance, the Greek genitive may have any one of a dozen or more meanings (e.g. subjective, objective, means, instrument, place, manner, etc ... I can't even remember all of them). It may be even a simple genitive.

    To use an illustration, in Phil 1:19, the "help given by the Spirit" is a genitive construction, formally translated as the "supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." Here is a place where the NIV has interpreted it as a subjective genitive, i.e, the Spirit is the subject of the supply -- thus, "Help given by the Spirit." It could be an objective genitive, i.e., "fresh supply which is the Holy Spirit," connoting an additional working of the Spirit. There is a relationship of this question to pneumatology and most commentators, it seems, are in agreement that it is a subjective genitive and the NIV has it right. The other major versions (NASB, NKJV, KJV, ESV) are sufficiently ambiguous to allow the read to make his own conclusion about what the text says. This could be good if you have an informed reader. It could be bad if you don't. In the end result, this is why multiple translations are a good idea, no matter your preference for personal reading or study. Consult a number of them to see what they say.

    There are some problems with DE just as there are with FE. To paraphrase the Proverbs, In teh multitude of versions, there is safety.
     
  10. romanbear

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    Hi Pastor Larry; [​IMG]
    Why do you dislike what I would like to have?
    Quote from you;
    _________________________________________________________________
    The first word of Genesis 1:1 is not "in." It is "bereshith." It is generally translated as "in the beginning" and with good reason ... for that is what it means. However, many cases are not that simple. And a word for word translation does not always make sense. Consider Gen 37:2 where "formal equivalence" would translate Joseph as being the "son of seventeen years." Every version practices dynamic equivalence, recognizing the translational principle that meaning is most important in translation.
    _________________________________________________________________
    What makes you so sure that I wouldn't be able to understand it? [​IMG] .Gen 37:2 I know that this translation might be hard for some but that's there problem.Let them study and figure it out for them selves. I have no problem with it."Joseph was seventeen years old". This is my point I would like the chance to understand God's word as it was written.I believe you may be wrong about the part of "in the beginning".I believe it's"Ray-sheeth" as per strongs dictionary.
    Quote from strongs dic.
    ________________________________________________
    _______________
    rê'shı̂yth

    ray-sheeth'

    From the same as H7218; the first, in place, time, order or rank (specifically a firstfruit): - beginning, chief (-est), first (-fruits, part, time), principal thing
    _______________________________________________
    _____________
    While it's true I'm a layman but, then so were all the disciples.So what makes anyone any more capable of reading and understanding than I am.

    If a man can read now a days why do we have to have someone else explain it to us.

    Who does own the manuscripts if there not in the Vatican Archives?. I couldn't help noticing that you didn't offer that information.

    Quote from pastor Larry;

    ________________________________________________

    This is a frequently, and unfortunately, oft repeated mistruth. The Catholic church does not "own" a manuscript per se. The scripts in question date back unchanged to the 2-5th centuries, thereby predating the catholic church as we know it. They remain unchanged for 1500 years. These manuscripts are not hidden by the RCC. They have been available for many years.

    _________________________________________________

    I differ with you again, There is only one that may not belong to the Catholic Church and it was found at the bottom of a garbage heap in Alexandria,during an dig by some geologist. Its is a copy of Vatican Vacantis (if I spelled that right).It was in very good condition suggesting that it was never used but thrown out.Which is why it was where it was.I believe Westscott and Hort used it for the ASB.They claim that it was older than all the other manuscripts,although there is evidence pointing to the opposite.It's suspect because of a couple of reasons and that is it's writings had been tampered with by erasing.and adding in of corrections.it just can't be counted on because of verses like col.2:18.I will admit the newer versions have scripture in them but clouded by the translators own ideas of how it should have been.

    Dynamic equiviualence is flawed by the simple fact it allows the addition of the translators ideas or what he thinks it's saying.That may or may not be accurate.

    I felt a certain Hostility from your thoughts about this [​IMG] and I want you to know that I respect you regardless of weather or not we agree. [​IMG] This is a forum for debate, is it not? [​IMG] I'm not out to make you look bad sir, only expressing my opinions.I love the Lord with all my heart and I love you as well [​IMG] .

    I may not have been to the same colleges as you, [​IMG] but I assure you I'm not uneducated nor ignorant of the scriptures.If you can show me where I'm wrong, I will stand down and accept the truth. [​IMG] But I will not accept speculative explanation as proof.I need to see it clearly in Black and white. written by intelligent people with nothing to promote for cash.

    Romanbear

    Peace
     
  11. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Every translation has interpretations, or translators ideas, because of the nature of translation itself as was explained above by myself and Pastor Larry. You cannot translate the entire Bible without putting some verses in context and interpreting the meaning.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  12. Pastork

    Pastork
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    I second the points made by both Pastor Larry and Joseph Botwinick.
     
  13. Joseph_Botwinick

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    The word is "Roshith" which is taken from the root word "Rosh" which means "beginning, head, etc..." as isnused in the holiday "Rosh Hashannah" which is translated as "head of the year" or "beginning of the year". The prefix "Beth" which is added to the beginning of the word gives the meaning of "In, On, By, etc...".

    Therefore, it is actually two words combined together: "Beth" and "Roshith", giving us "Beroshith".

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  14. Bible Student

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    Yet, if I understand the difference formal equivalence they translate mostly word for word. the desire to convey the exact word for exactness not just thought.

    The dynamic equivalence translators, thought for thought or phrase by phrase. The desire to convey the thought rather than the actual verbage.

    Richard [​IMG]
     
  15. Joseph_Botwinick

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    A definition of terms so that we can better understand exactly what these words mean:

    "Dynamic Equivalent: The attempt to translate words, idioms, and grammatical constructions of the original language into precise equivalents in the receptor language. Such a translation keeps historical distance on all historical and most factual matters, but 'updates' matters of language, grammer, and style. "

    Source: How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth: A Guide To Understanding the Bible by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, p. 35.

    I couldn't find a definition for Formal Equivalence, but I am guessing that, based on the definition for Dynamic Equivalence, that Formal seeks to translate very woodenly, without taking into account historical and cultural differences. Therefore, they want to translate word for word.

    I would probably personally be ok with either one as I feel comfortable enough with the language, history, and culture of the Bible to understand these things. I would want to be careful with the Dynamic translation that too much liberty is not taken with interpretations. I would probably demand much more in evidence to justify their interpretations for this (I am not sure that makes sense). But even with a Formal translation (if we except the definition that I offered above), the translator is going to be forced to make some interpretive decisions sooner or later because of the nature of the languages and the process of translation. There would be a less demand for evidence that their interpretation is correct. However, the impetus would be on me to study the language, history, and culture a lot more in order to understand some things that may be foreign to my generation.

    So, therefore, I think responsible translators probably fall somewhere in between formal and dynamic equivalent.

    Joseph Botwinick [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [ December 05, 2002, 11:24 PM: Message edited by: Joseph Botwinick ]
     
  16. rsr

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    Sounds good, Joseph.

    Otherwise, you end up with "cast the same in his teeth."
     
  17. Pastork

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    Romanbear,

    You have said, "While it's true I'm a layman but, then so were the disciples. So what makes anyone any more capable of reading and understanding than I am. If a man can read now a days why do we have to have someone explain it to us." May I ask if you believe that Jesus established a teaching office in the Church? If so, why do you think He did this? Also, would you contend that there is no one who might have a better understanding of the Scriptures than you?

    Pastork
     
  18. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Hey guys,

    Just a friendly reminder. Let's please keep this nice. We are all on the same side here...ok?

    Joseph Botwinick [​IMG]
     
  19. Bible Student

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    Again I want to keep this as a good learning post as I believe that there are those who have never heard of this topic. Please stick to the issue and no name calling. Thanks

    Some information to add.

    Formal Equivalence Translations:
    The Geneva Bible
    King James Bible
    New American Bible
    New Berkely Version
    New King James Version
    New Life Version
    Revised Standard Version
    William Tyndale Translation

    Loosely Formal Equivalence Translations:
    Amplified Version
    Jewish New Testament
    Lamsa Bible
    New Revised Standard Version

    Dynamic Equivalence Translations:
    Contemporary English Version
    Easy to Read Version
    New Century Version
    New International Version
    New Jerusalem Bible
    Revised English Bible

    Loosley Dynamic Equivalence Translations:
    New English Version
    Phillips Revised Student Edition
    Today's English Version

    I believe that the Dynamic Equivalence Translations should only be used for Bible Study and not used for "The Word of God". These are made up more of some mans thoughts than what the Formal Equivalence Translations.

    Yes, I understand that while translating from one language to another there are words that have to be changed or added but that is better than changing a complete phrases because the translator/teacher thinks this is what the author or God meant.

    Richard [​IMG]
     
  20. Forever settled in heaven

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    n altho i don't agree w Pastork on his preference for formal equivalence, i must commend his honesty in admitting dynamic equivalence in the KJB--cf. KJBOist D.A. Waite's habitual equivocation at http://www.errantyears.com/1998/apr98/001369.html

    says Waite, '1. "God Forbid." Some people allege that the KJB translators used
    dynamic equivalence in their expression "God forbid." Even if it
    were the case (and I do not accept that it is), it is found only fourteen
    times in the New Testament: Ro. 3:4,6,31; 6:2,15; 7:7,13; 9:14; 11:1,11; 1
    Co. 6:15; Ga. 2:17; 3:21; 6:14. It is a rendering of "mE genoito"
    which is "may it not be" or "let it not be." This is
    perfect 1611 parlance for "God forbid."'

    perfect 1611 parlance but not dynamic equivalence? yeah right [​IMG]
     

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